Now that we are getting vaccinated and moving forward, we can all fill our cup of inspiration again by going to see original art. I think it’s vital to an artist’s growth to get outside the studio to seek out new sources of inspiration. Last month (April 2021), I was lecturing and doing live demonstrations for Visual Arts Passage Studio Bridge (recordings available for viewing) and I shared the importance of seeing works in person. The detail that is lost in reproduction, especially in large works, is quite drastic. If we are to learn from the masters, then we need to see, up close and personal, what they actually painted. We need to experience the works firsthand to hear the whispers from legends!
There are a few paintings that really stand out to me that I would like to share with you. While in the New York City, I was able to visit the Ronald S. Lauder Neue Galerie to see the Austrian Masterworks exhibit. In that amazing space of architectural grandeur was the portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer by Gustav Klimt. Sitting in front of that original work of art made me speechless. It was just utterly breathtaking. The reproductions that I have seen over the years don’t even come close to revealing the level of dimensionality and texture that the piece has. Much of the detailing is actually raised, gold leafed and then a patina was added onto the surface with thinned out black and then wiped back to reveal the dimensionality. The Neue Galerie did not allow photography whatsoever so I sat on the bench in front of the epic painting and took extensive notations on what I saw and how I would duplicate the same effect using modern materials. The below information on process were from such notes.
Curvilinear lines were added. I am not quite sure exactly what instrument he used to do this application. The overall look was similar to the application of lettering and decorative details on a cake with a pastry bag. I myself would apply molding paste with a plastic syringe. You can get them from medical industry catalogs. This tool would achieve a similar effect with a consistent thickness of application. In the actual painting, Klimt’s application looked like he did not have a consistent way of applying the dimensional line work. This leads me to believe he applied it through perhaps a tube or something similar, limiting the ability to control how the line of relief revealed itself.
The other area of interest I thought was quite spectacular was in her necklace where there was a silver relief. It almost looked like the artist applied a plaster-like medium and then drew into it, manipulating it slightly. Upon drying, the artist, most likely, went in with silver to bring out the highly textural aspect of her neck choker design. I also really loved the background, which is a big part of the upper left-hand side of the piece. If you look at it, it is as if the area was gold painted with a patina wash of black applied on top, wiped out in areas and then sponging or some kind of stamping application using gold was used on top. This helped to break up a large solid area in an interesting way, giving it a freeform dynamic effect.
The other show that has resonated with me till today was at the Guggenheim Museum. It was an exhibition called Mystical Symbolism. From the exhibition, “The Salon de la Rose+Croix (R+C) was an annual exhibition in Paris established by the eccentric French author and critic Joséphin Péladan (1858–1918) to represent the doctrines of his Rosicrucian order—a fraternal, esoteric religious sect.” The art that was created under this order combined mysticism, symbolism, numerology, science and spirituality all-in-one.
I attended the exhibit while I was in New York City and saw many amazing works. This one incredibly large work entitled Orpheus in Hades by Pierre Amedee Marcel-Beronneau really stood out. I was able to take pictures and included them in this post as well as a video to show you the textural detail. But, neither of these reproductive forms even comes close to the magnitude and beauty of the original art. Watch the video here:
There is an amazing texture applied throughout the surface of the entire painting, giving it a very tactile quality. If you look at the detail in the bas-relief of the headpiece (refer to picture below), you will see a great deal of impasto built up in layers. The flesh of the figure, however, is kept smooth in terms of surface texture. This contrast in topography gives the piece a vividly dynamic quality. If you were to only see the full reproduction, you would have no idea of the textures that were created. Because the work is quite large and reduced in reproduction, so much detail is lost. It is such a shame because it is that bas-relief detail that makes is magical!
I am in the process of working on a piece that will utilize bas-relief techniques. It is serendipitous that I was able to observe firsthand the works mentioned above to assist me in ways of applying relief onto the paint surface. I am looking forward to sharing those works in process with you! So stay tuned!
If you are interested in working in relief on the painted surface, check out my series of videos!
WORKING IN RELIEF ON THE PAINTED SURFACE VIDEO SERIES
This video series explore bas-relief techniques onto the painted surface. In the first video, the artist demonstrates working in various gel and fluid mediums to build texture onto the painted surface. She also shows how to employ pastes, lava gel, gel pens, matter painting and crackle texture to the dimensional surface in layers. (41.22 minutes)
In the second video, the artist demonstrates the sculptural application of various cloth and trim to the working surface to create a unique topography. In addition, she will show how bas-relief techniques can be used to make a custom collagraph plate for embossing watercolor paper that can later be painted in acrylics. (34.56 minutes)
In the third video, the artist employs assemblage accents, creates flexible accents from molds, incorporates unique sculptural details and applies custom textures onto the surfaces of a unique construct. (44.34 minutes)
The fourth video in the series demonstrates how to create unique faux finishes onto custom and repurposed assemblage accents. (53.54 minutes)
The series of high-definition videos are available through online streaming. Gmail is required for private access. No refunds will be accepted after purchase.
$80.00 US FOUR VIDEOS
Thank you for another great article Lisa, seeing art up close is really the way to fully appreciate it. You can really soak in all the work that went into creating the piece as well as realizing you have been just as close to the work that the artist personally worked on.
I love textured pieces as they add another dimension to paintings, even the way the light and shadows reflects on them you can always see something different! 🙂
Thanks Brian! It is such a treat to be able to spend time with original art, really seeing the process up front. I also love texture…I believe it adds magic to the work!